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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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That Could Have Gone Better

Let’s enjoy the good part first: Noah Syndergaard was unbelievable.

It was clear from the first inning that he had no-hit stuff, which considering Syndergaard doesn’t believe in walks means perfect-game stuff. Every pitch was working, particularly the change-up, against which Cardinal batters had no chance. You could see weary resignation in their faces every time Syndergaard got two strikes. They knew what was coming and it didn’t matter.

And for all that, Syndergaard got nothing. The Mets lost the game and the series, and I can confidently say that they are the worst .652 team in the history of baseball.

The biggest culprit was the defense. Syndergaard went into the seventh with a 2-0 lead, which seemed like a decent margin for error the way he was pitching, except the Mets then started making errors at the margins. First came a fly ball down the left-field line by Tommy Pham, who was death and taxes in this series. Yoenis Cespedes had to go a long way with the sun as a factor, and wound up sliding into the line. The ball bounced off his glove and away for a double. Pham then came home on a little parachute cued out over second base by Marcell Ozuna to make it a 2-1 game. With two out, Met killer Paul DeJong smacked a ball to Todd Frazier‘s right that eluded him, putting runners at second and third. Syndergaard held the lead, but had to fight through a long AB by Kolten Wong to get there, expending pitches he shouldn’t have had to throw in the first place and pushing his tank closer to E.

In the eighth, Greg Garcia led off and hit a hard grounder to Amed Rosario‘s backhand, which he muffed to start the foreboding music playing, particularly as Yadier Molina ambled up to do terrible things to any available Mets. Syndergaard struck Molina out with an evil change-up, but Matt Carpenter was able to solve the change, singling to right and chasing Syndergaard. Robert Gsellman came in and got the double play he was looking for … but one batter after Pham singled to tie up the game. On a day that saw a lot of impressive Syndergaard pitches, the glove Noah hurled into the dugout wall at 90+ had to be up there.

For all that, the Mets looked like they’d pulled off an unlikely, goofy and uplifting win, which is kind of the story of this very weird season so far. This time, Jose Lobaton of all people walked with the bases loaded in the 10th. In came Jeurys Familia to close, and he got two quick outs, just as he had in collecting Tuesday’s surprisingly stress-free save.

But it was not to be. That Damn Pham collected his 43,499th hit of the series, which I’m pretty sure is a record, and the damage was revealed as far more than cosmetic when Jose Martinez socked a ball into the right-center gap. Unlike the debacle in Atlanta, Mickey Callaway had Juan Lagares in for defense, and Lagares had time to get to the ball. Which is as close to a guarantee as there is in a Mets game … except today. Lagares’s first step was tentative, he slowed down on the warning track, realized he was a couple of steps shy, leapt and the ball fell in. The Cardinals had tied it, and then things ground along for a while and eventually the Mets lost. This was the game I expected Tuesday, when the Mets eked out a skinny run and I braced for impact and everything somehow worked out. This time they got that skinny run and I exhaled, only to do a double-take as the Mets came apart just shy of the finish line.

It was nine hours ago and I still find myself shaking my head and muttering about the Martinez double. That’s a play I’ve seen Lagares make 100 times, and I don’t mean that in the generic “I’m surprised and bummed” way. I mean that in the “if I had the search-engine chops and the time I could put together a video of Juan Lagares catching a ball like that 100 times” way.

Cespedes, Rosario, Frazier, Lagares. None of the balls hit to them were automatic outs. All would have been classified as at least good plays, if made. But they weren’t made, and they should have been. There were other problems, to be sure: the Mets played 13 innings and collected one extra-base hit, which is not a winning strategy. But Syndergaard pitched a phenomenal game, was let down defensively by his teammates and walked away with nothing, and all I can do is shake my head and think what a shame it is.

8 comments to That Could Have Gone Better

  • sturock

    What’s up with Amed Rosario? He’s sure not much of a hitter. If he’s gonna mess up ground balls, what’s the point?

    (Granted, I didn’t see the play on TV…)

    • DAK442

      Amed Rosario, the second coming of Rey Ordonez.
      Speaking of shortstops who can’t hit, what’s the expiration date on Jose Reyes? Great story for a while but he is bringing nothing. Thanks for the weak groundout with the bases loaded!

  • LeClerc

    It is a shame.

    A great game by Noah spoiled.

    Familia faints at the doorstep.

  • Gil

    The 8 ball replied “my source indicates no”

  • Familia has to stop throwing his 4-seam (straight) fastball in hittable places. He gets hurt on it over and over and over again. That pitch to Martinez should have been down and away. Everybody knows Martinez hits the fastball–throw more sinkers to him instead! Same thing happened with Conor Gillaspie and with Wil Myers in 2016. Will he ever learn?

  • Greg Mitchell

    TV announcers said Martinez hit a sinker and indeed it was low but he got it. I’d guess Lagares was battling the sun, but who knows. It was scorched, not a long fly.

    Sewald was great first inning but then faltered pitching 2nd inning after hurling two innings two nights before. Ramos looked rejuvenated after a few nights off. Maybe Blevins will benefit the same.

    Nimmo needs to play every day which means Bruce at first. This hurts infield defense but helps outfield. Against lefties Wilmer plays first and Bruce back to OF, so Nimmo actually plays 3/4 time, which is fine. Just my two cents.

  • Bob

    After watching Thor excel, we get to see Famalia barf all over game and blow his 3rd game–in APRIL!
    (And let’s see what new nightmares happen @ Petco this weekend.)
    Great, that works out to about 15+ blown saves this season.

    Where is Larry Bearnarth?

    Bob in LA–Met fan since Polo Grounds

  • Greensleeves

    Jack be Nimmo,Jack be quick… Yes, more Nimmo, pretty please.